Overextended by Lisa Harper

Grab a cup of coffee, and get ready for a long chat with a great friend because that’s exactly what this book feels like.  Overextended… And Loving Most of It! by Lisa Harper, one woman’s defense of passion over balance, is mostly Lisa’s journey of adopting an HIV-positive daughter from Haiti.  It lofts the reader through comical incidents and tearful moments along the way as easily as Jesus carries stumbling humans over hazardous trails.

Here’s a prideful boast an honest disclaimer: Lisa and I are friends.  (OK I’ve met her a couple of times).  She’s from Central Florida where I live, and we had a few meals together when she was the local Focus on the Family representative a number of years ago.  Her forte is delivering theological content through humorous vignettes in front of large crowds, but whether in a crowded auditorium, alone at a table,  or through the pages of a book, Lisa has the gift of making you feel you like a friend.

Overextended contains a few memorable points like this one: “In my experience there’s a ditch on either side of the road of life that people tend to get stuck in when they’ve suffered painful, traumatic or deeply disappointing events.  One ditch is that of minimizing their emotional wounds and the other is stage-lighting them” (p. 137-38).  That’s worth closing the book to digest with God at a personal level.  However, most of this quick read was more like glancing over a friend’s Facebook page – warm, amusing and insubstantial.  It also contained many extended quotes from other authors and contexts which seemed a little like cheating.

I like Lisa’s thesis, that passion may be a more valuable attribute in God’s economy than the balance we are all always striving for, but I’d rather hear it in Lisa’s trademark, bubbly speaking voice than read it in the more serious medium of a book.  However, if you enjoy adoption memoirs, quirky people or light bedtime stories devoted to Jesus, then I’d recommend Overextended to you.

I review for BookSneeze®